Finance Manager Fred. Restaurant Owner Randy. Sheila from Accounting. When starting your online businesses, do you know who your business’s buyer personas are? And how much do you really know about them?
Buyer personas (interchangeable with marketing personas) are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal clients/customers. Personas are something we always create in our mind when we think of a certain occupation or person.
Some common examples are a grease handed mechanic or a slick-haired suit wearing car salesman. Personas are a very useful tool in marketing, sales, product creation and service provision. As business owners, we all internalize the ideal client we’re trying to attract, and with that, it becomes easier to relate to our clients as real humans. Understanding your buyer personas is critical to content creation, product development, follow up, and anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.
Recall to our previous topic of Niches, about what kind of specific industry we want to build within. Within that niche, we have tons of customers who relate to a certain kind of product or service that helps facilitate the activities they enjoy. For example, outdoor activities are a niche in which the clients want quality, lasting products that are lightweight and are comfortable with what they’re carrying. The buyer persona comes from someone who loves and respects the great outdoors, and wants the comfort of a tent, sleeping bag and campfire starters to make camping easier.
Buyer personas help you envision prospective customers better, all while helping you understand your current client base. This allows you to tailor or mold your content, messages, products and services to those specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of various groups. Ask yourself these questions when making your judgements.
- What are their specific needs and interests?
- What is the common theme or background of your ideal buyer?
The best buyer personas are all based from the market research you gather from your client base. You can do this through interviews, surveys and even polls through social media. When it comes to your business, you could have as many as ten to twenty personas, or even as low as one or two. If you are just starting your business, start small and work your way up. You can always look to develop additional personas later if needed.
Use of Personas in Marketing
Developing personas at the entry level allows you to create engaging content and messaging that appeals to your target client base. It enables you to personalize your marketing strategy for different customer segments.
For example, when you send out the same lead nurturing emails to every customer within your database, it will become stale and impersonal. Instead you can create a segment for each buyer persona – and customize your messaging according to what information you have about those unique personas.
Additionally, when you combine these unique lead nurturing emails with the current lifecycle stage of your customer, your buyer personas can create a map for you on how to engage this particular customer with highly targeted content.
Creation of Buyer Personas
As mentioned earlier, you can use surveys, interviews and polls to help research your target audience. Your target audience includes a mix of loyal customers, potential customers and those who are inbetween.
Here are some useful tips to gather information
- Look through your contact list and carefully look for trends about how certain leads or current clients find and enjoy your content.
- When you are making forms to use on your website, make sure to use form fields that gather important personal information. Some examples include company size, margins on revenue, and current return on investments.
- If you have a sales team, get feedback on the leads they’re speaking with the most. Brainstorm and find common themes between different buyer personas and which type of customers you serve best.
- Interview current clients and prospects via phone or video call to see what they like/dislike about your product or service.
Finding Interviewees for Buyer Personas
Your current customer base is an ideal place to start with your interview questions. They have already bought your product or services and can give you a detailed answer on what they like and disliked about it. Make sure you reach out to both the “good,” the “bad,” and the “ugly.” Each one has their very own unique experience regarding your product/service. Finding out which nuances each have allows you to adapt and make changes that you might not have known were needed. Customers love being heard, and interviewing them gives them a chance to tell you about their challenges, their outlook on life, and what they think of your product. Your current customer base would love to know that they have a substantial impact on your products/services. With this, they may even become more loyal to your company – when you reach out, make sure you tell them that your goal is to get their highly valued feedback.
Current prospects and leads are a great option to get solid feedback from. One of the main reasons is that prospects have a mindset to shop and look for the best value for companies they want to work with. If you have any data about them, whether it be from website analytics or through lead generation, you can use this to figure out if they fit as your target persona.
It may be tough to get a large number of interviewees through this way, but in return you will receive high-quality information from an unbiased source. Don’t know where to start? Ask your inner circle; former coworkers, social media contacts, people you’d like to interview and introduce yourself towards. Reaching out to your common connections on LinkedIn as a source is a great way to start a conversation.
Tips to get Interviews
- Use Incentives: You may not need to use them in every single scenario – but having some incentives in your back pocket definitely helps with getting good feedback. Incentives give prospects an easy reason to speak to you and be interviewed, even if they don’t have a relationship with you. Simple gift cards for Amazon or for chain stores like Walmart or Target are an easy option.
- This is NOT a Sales Call: Be crystal clear on the fact that you are doing this for research to help your company, especially with non-customers. You are trying to learn, not getting them to commit to an hour long sales call. Let them speak about their lives, jobs and challenges. Later down the line you can use this information as repore to speak to them if they might become a client.
- Yes, yes and YES! Make it simple to say yes for an interview. Suggest times and be flexible. Ask them these simple questions “Would it make sense for me to call you at this time?” If not, reply with “What time would make sense for you?”
Top 20 Questions to ask in Persona Interviews
We make it easy for you to start – use these questions and ask them to speak slowly so you can capture their answers.
1. What is your job role? Your title?
2. How is your job measured?
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
4. What skills are required to do your job?
5. What knowledge and tools do you use in your job?
6. Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
7. In which industry or industries does your company do work?
8. What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
9. What are you responsible for?
10. What does it mean to be successful in your role?
11. What are your biggest challenges?
12. How do you learn about new information for your job?
13. What publications or blogs do you read?
14) What associations and social networks do you participate in?
15. Describe your personal demographics (if appropriate, ask their age, whether they’re married, if they have children).
16. Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, which schools did you attend, and what did you study?
17. Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
18. How do you prefer to interact with vendors (e.g. email, phone, in person)?
19. Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If so, how do you search for information?
20. Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?
Using your research to create your Personas
Now that you have all this great raw data from your interviews, it is time to distill them into useful information. Identify any patterns and commonalities from your received answers, and put them into an Excel or Google Sheet so you can share it with the rest of your company.
This building block teaches you how to make use of your Personas, and how they can benefit you in the future. Knowing your niche and a specific persona for that niche allows you to target content and information easily and seamlessly.